The war against Iran’s nuclear program

Posted on: December 2, 2011

The war is under way, though no one declared it and no one will confirm it. This is the secret war against Iran’s nuclear project. It did not start this week or last month. It has been under way for years, but only faint echoes have reached the public.

In June 2010, the press reported that the computer system operating the uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz had been infected with a virus. A deadly worm, known as Stuxnet, had infiltrated the controllers, manufactured by Siemens.

Two weeks ago, a huge blast ripped through a Revolutionary Guards military base 40 kilometers west of Tehran. The explosion could be heard as far away as the capital. Dozens of people were killed, including the head of Iran’s missile development project, General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam. This week, there was a powerful explosion in Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, which has a uranium conversion plant on its outskirts. It is not yet clear what was damaged in the blast.

These incidents involved three key elements of Iran’s nuclear program. The first is uranium conversion (which comes after the mineral has been mined ), the second is enrichment, and the third is the delivery means.

Coupled with other incidents, including the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, these events have worried the ayatollahs’ regime, causing reactions ranging from embarrassment to anger. The public response usually follows a pattern: first a sweeping denial, then a limp and stuttering admission that “something happened,” and finally the claim that it was an “accident.” This shows that the regime does not know exactly what to say, and that its voice is not uniform. It also reflects the fierce dispute within the regime’s top ranks. The leadership is divided, and the reactions come from a range of ministries, rival organizations and competing media outlets.

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